Honoring Our Board

October 17, 2018

Three members have fulfilled their terms on the Forum Board as of Sept. 30, 2018: Mike Chmielewski of Palmer; Ernestine Hayes of Juneau; and Chellie Skoog of Anchorage. 

 

We asked them to share their answers to three questions:
1.    How has your board experience changed your perspective(s)?
2.    What moment or experience from your board service sticks in your mind?
3.    What have you done differently outside of the Forum as a result of your time on the board?


At the same meeting, two Anchorage residents were named to three-year terms on the Forum Board, and we're honored to introduce Laci Michaud and Kristi Williams. 

Ernestine Hayes, Co-Chair, Programs Committee

Professor of English, University of Alaska Southeast

 

Ernestine Hayes was raised in Juneau, and from the age of fifteen lived in California.  She moved back to Juneau, Alaska when she was 40 years old and, at the age of 57, she graduated from the University of Alaska with an MFA in creative writing and literary arts.  She is professor of English at UAS and an active promoter of Native rights and culture, and decolonization.  The current State Writer Laureate, Ernestine has won many awards and distinctions, and is the author of Blonde Indian and The Tao of Raven, among other publications.  Ernestine joined the Forum Board of Directors in 2012.

 

We asked Ernestine to share her answers to these three questions:

How has your board experience changed your perspective(s)?

My time on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Humanities Forum has enlarged and deepened my perspective, especially with regard to the connections we make when we share our stories and listen to the stories of others.

What moment or experience from your board service sticks in your mind?

I will not forget the times when community members around Alaska so generously shared their experiences and their stories.

What have you done differently outside of the Forum as a result of your time on the board?

I am a stronger advocate for Alaska's stories as a result of my time on the Board.  

Chellie Skoog, Vice Chair

Vice President of Programs, The Foraker Group

Originally from Minnesota, Chellie Skoog entered the nonprofit arena and Alaska simultaneously in 2001. Since that time, she has worked with nonprofits ranging in size from 4 to 400+ employees, and she’s now the Vice President of Programs at The Foraker Group in Anchorage. Chellie is a graduate of Leadership Anchorage and an active member of her community. Before moving to Anchorage, she lived in Seward where she led initiatives to build the Seward Community Playground, to launch the Seward Community Foundation, and to raise funds to construct the Seward Community Library Museum. When not working, Chellie spends time with her family exploring the great outdoors. Chellie joined the Forum Board of Directors in 2015.

 

We asked Chellie to share her answers to these three questions:

How has your board experience changed your perspective(s)?

The humanities prompt a deeper understanding of the world around us and that has helped me to appreciate each person’s voice, experience and perspective in every conversation. In the past, I focused on making sure that my perspective was heard. Now, I consciously balance sharing my perspective with the opportunity to listen and learn from others.

What moment or experience from your board service sticks in your mind?

As we contemplated the important decision of hiring an Executive Director to take the organization forward, I was surprised at how we shared the exact same interview experience but had varied responses to it. It was fascinating - a humanities exercise in itself. Where some witnessed strengths, others saw weakness.  Where some saw challenges, others saw opportunities. It was an eye-opening moment that demonstrated how each of our own life paths have shaped our world view and perspective. None of us being more right or wrong than the person sitting next to us… just different and equally valid. And despite the varied thoughts and experiences, we found our way forward, together. One voice. 

What have you done differently outside of the Forum as a result of your time on the board?

There’s strength in showing and sharing vulnerability. Admission to the struggles and the challenges we face may seem weak to some but there’s strength in acknowledging where you need help and support and there’s courage in asking for it.

Mike Chmielewski
Chief Operating Officer, Radio Free Palmer

 

Mike Chmielewski is the Chief Operating Officer of Radio Free Palmer, an organization that is dedicated to developing and operating an educational community radio station in Palmer and the surrounding communities. His work helps to build an informed, involved, diverse, and reflective community, and to provide broad citizen access and participation in radio. Mike studied Russian, International Relations, Counseling Psychology, and Organizational Systems.  Mike has had a number of roles since he joined the Alaska Humanities Forum Board in 2012, having most recently served as Treasurer.

 

We asked Mike to share his answers to these three questions:

How has your board experience changed your perspective(s)?

My board experience was extraordinary mainly because of the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of individuals. No two members of the board were cut from the same mold. Each member’s willingness to both engage with the process of governing as well as connecting one on one to other board members made every encounter a delight. The participation of staff members was extraordinary as well. This board and organization has been willing to evaluate itself - and act to improve - a rarity in my experience.

What moment or experience from your board service sticks in your mind?

Probably the most significant takeaway was the opportunity to participate on the finance committee with other board members and the CFO, as we met regularly and worked to not only validate the “numbers” but focus on understandable takeaways that could be presented to the Board to ensure we all met our fiduciary responsibilities.

What have you done differently outside of the Forum as a result of your time on the board?

Through our use of a process which invited the asking of clarifying questions before launching into the expression of concerns or offering changes, we were able to remain connected, focused and more understanding. We heard one another. A good practice which I use elsewhere.

 

By the way we also laughed.

 

Laci Michaud

Communications Program Manager,

Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center

 

Inspired by what I learned as a member of Leadership Anchorage 21 (LA21), I sought out ways to become a more active and contributing member of the community. I really enjoyed my time in LA21, learning about the Alaska Humanities Forum and all the work you are doing around the state and I want to help continue that mission and vision. I would like to help connect Alaska because connections are vital for communities to grow and to be sustainable.

Kristi Williams

Consultant, Anchorage

 

 I currently serve on the Anchorage Museum board and enjoy helping connect people that share a passion for strengthening our communities and cultures. I believe in the mission of the Alaska Humanities Forum and would love to have an opportunity to advance the important work of the organization. My cultural background and working knowledge of both the Legislative and Administrative branches gives me a unique perspective that would serve the board well. 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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